BELFAST — It begins at the front door.

The breadth of Linden Frederick’s creative instincts become clear just by stepping into his Belfast residence. Frederick designed and helped construct the modern, spacious home. He also designed and built many of the tables and cabinets that appoint the home, and his studio.

It’s there, in the studio, where Frederick’s creative genius reaches its zenith.

Carpenter, acclaimed artist, storyteller, violin maker … Frederick answers to them all. The Belfast resident has crafted an ever-evolving creative career.

“I’ve always gravitated toward the narrative, telling a story about somebody,” Frederick said. Curious statement when one considers that Frederick’s chosen mediums don’t include the written word.

Linden Frederick has always been creative. A framed picture that he drew as a child hangs prominently in his studio. After graduating from the Ontario College of Art, Frederick played the role of the starving artist while working as a carpenter to pay the bills.

Frederick describes his art, variously, as “realism, representationalism, or naturalism.” His painted works are designed to tell a story.

“There’s a lot of art-speak terms for what I do,” Frederick said. “I paint pictures that look like places.”

Classic understatement. When one views Frederick’s paintings, it is difficult not to confuse them with photographs. His depictions of places include personal touches, for example a table set for dinner, that allow for greater perspective.

A reproduction of one of Linden Frederick’s nightscape paintings. Photo courtesy of Linden Frederick

Early on, Frederick painted places depicted in daylight. The art world took notice. A change in perspective brought legions of new interest and opportunity.

“My wife Heather and I bought an old farmhouse, and we were fixing it up,” Frederick said. “I’d go driving around at night and drive by these houses lit by artificial light and consider what was going on at those houses. I thought about what the people’s lives were like. It drew me in.”

He began painting some of those houses, depicted at night.

“The night images are where I developed a reputation,” Frederick said. “It’s what I’m known for.”

Since 1989 Frederick has had 23 one-person shows from coast to coast. He has also had 30 group showings and is in eight corporate and museum collections.

In 2017 Frederick was approached for a collaborative project involving the written word. Frederick was asked to provide 15 writers, a who’s who of American literary excellence, with a reproduction of one of his nightscapes. The writers, in turn, were asked to consider the story told in the painting, and to write about it. The collection of paintings and stories is contained in Night Stories.

Currently he is involved in a two-person show at the Forum Galley in New York with Cushing artist Alan Magee. The show opened Sept. 22 and will conclude Nov. 5. Frederick was presented with a Maine Arts Commission Fellowship in 1999.

In search of a hobby, Frederick chose the making and repair of musical instruments his new passion. He “experimented” by making a guitar-shaped cello. Once again, a move signaled a change in direction.

“We were living in a place where there wasn’t much studio space.” Frederick said. “So, I began making violins.”

More passion than side-hustle, Frederick’s violin production is prodigious. He is currently working on his 39th instrument (made from wood taken from a storm blowdown in his backyard). He is also experimenting with a five-string violin he has crafted.

“It kind of sounds like a viola,” Frederick said.

He estimates that it takes approximately 200 hours to make a violin. The hobby, however, doesn’t diminish his efforts on canvas.

“I try to strike a balance,” Frederick said of his creative efforts. “Sometimes it’s all painting, sometimes all fiddles, or shows. I just do what I feel like.”

A picture Linden Frederick painted as a child hangs in his studio. Photo by Jim Leonard

Regardless of what he’s doing, Frederick, ever the creator, is right where he wants to be.

“It satisfies two parts of my interests,” Frederick said. “Painting is very different than fiddle making. But it’s still making something.”